Claim: Dark Money Conspiracy – star "deniers" are scripted performers

Prof. Brulle (Drexel Uni, Phil) claims IRS helped track secret donations

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

Prof. Robert Brulle, an environmental sociologist of Drexel University, Phil., has published a study allegedly accusing “deniers” of being sock puppets in the pay of “dark money” from big oil.

According to the story, Prof. Brulle enlisted IRS help tracking a correlation between big oil bogeymen such as the Koch Brothers withdrawing funding from climate studies, and significant increases in funding from other organizations such as the Donor’s Trust and Donor’s Capital Fund. 

Quite apart from the outrageous invasion of privacy, if the IRS did actually lend special assistance to the study, the mundane explanation, that lead authors of studies simply turned to other sources when some donors withdrew their support, was not good enough for Prof. Brulle.

Instead, Brulle allegedly asserts the existence of a “dark money” conspiracy – a deliberate attempt to conceal the true sources of funding, by using a network of shadowy donor groups.

“The climate change countermovement has had a real political and ecological impact on the failure of the world to act on the issue of global warming,” said Brulle. “Like a play on Broadway, the countermovement has stars in the spotlight — often prominent contrarian scientists or conservative politicians — but behind the stars is an organizational structure of directors, script writers and producers, in the form of conservative foundations.

All I can say Anthony, is where is my dark money cheque? I’ve been sending you these scripts for ages, so far not a dime :-).


Some other viewpoints on this claim.

Dr. Lubos Motl: We received 1 billion dollars

‘Congratulations to all of us. A possible problem – one pointed out to me by the Galileo Movement via Twitter – is that I may find out that we just “may have received” the billion instead of the phrase “did receive” it.’ — ‘The funding of climate skepticism work is at most something of order $10 million a year and much if not most of the most influential work is being done on a budget that is smaller than that by additional orders of magnitude…This figure should be compared to $80 billion that have been paid to promote the climate hysteria pseudoscience, mostly in the recent decade or two…If Suzanne Goldenberg believes that the purpose of this funding is to change people’s minds, well, then I must say that the climate skeptics are more efficient by almost 4 orders of magnitude.’

Marc Morano:

This new study and the media reports surrounding it are pure bunk! The study counts all money raised by all conservative groups as somehow being for global warming issues! But the study itself admits this is not true.

Excerpt: ‘It was not always possible to separate funds designated strictly for climate-change work from overall budgets, Brulle said. ‘Since the majority of the organizations are multiple focus organizations, not all of this income was devoted to climate change activities.’

Tom Nelson:

After UK Guardian’s Suzanne Goldenberg makes a large, fraudulent claim about climate change spending, it gets very quietly ‘fixed’ with the addition of weasel words ‘may’ and ‘up to’

[Guardian story yesterday, from the Internet Archive] Conservative groups spend $1bn a year to fight action on climate change

Conservative groups have spent $1bn a year on the effort to deny science and oppose action on climate change

[Guardian story today] Conservative groups spend up to $1bn a year to fight action on climate change | Environment |

Conservative groups may have spent up to $1bn a year on the effort to deny science and oppose action on climate change

…This headline on this article was amended on 21 December 2013 to reflect that not all the $1bn referred to will have funded climate change work.

Twitter / kaleekreider: @DanJWeiss @pourmecoffee Bob …

@DanJWeiss @pourmecoffee Bob Bruelle says headline misleading. $1billion is total avail not total spent on climate. I will forward email.

Update: Robert Brulle pushes back on Suzanne’s fraud here.


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Latimer Alder

‘sock puppets in the pay of “dark money” from big oil.’
Great news. Where’s mine? Who’s nicked my pay cheque?
In case the UK branch of Sceptics International Fry The Planet Eat Babies Roast the Grandkids Corp has another PAYG gettogether after Christmas in the pub, I’ll need a few quid to buy my Fish and Chips and bus fare (£7 and £1.90 respectively – a total of about $13US)
Confession: I once had a free cup of coffee – and TWO chocolate chip cookies courtesy of the high rolling GWPF. And I saw Josh the Cartoonist buying McSteve a beer.
For UK, accusations of Big Money for sceptical voices are entirely ludicrous.

Prof. Robert Brulle MAY have received dark money to write this research. The sums COULD amount to several millions of (possibly) USD.
Anthony, you are a PROBABLE Millionaire!


Why is it that I’m thinking that the same rigorous standards are being used to feed these conspiracy theories as the climate alarmists “science”?

A. Scott

“Brulle’s team … listed 118 climate change denial organizations in the U.S and attempted to trace their source of fundings with the help of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). They found that 91 organizations have received a TOTAL of $558 million from 2003 to 2010. However, they clarified that these amount were not all spent on climate change studies. However, 75 percent of their funds were “dark money.”
$69.75 million a year average.
And how much does the global warming side receive?
This story says $4 billion – or $10.6 million per DAY – in 2011.
Orig link to data – Go to Chapter 15:
“Four billion dollars to study climate change — and that’s just for this year!
Check the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s 2011 budget request, and go tochapter 15: Climate Change in the FY 2011 Budget. The numbers are staggering. In 2011, your government will spend $10.6 million a day to study, combat, and educate about climate change.
The big winner in the climate change money train is the National Science Foundation — they are requesting $1.616 billion. They want $766 million for the Science, Engineering and Education for Sustainability program, a 15.9% increase from their last budget. They also need another $370 million for the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP), an increase of 16%. They say they also need another $480 million for Atmospheric Sciences, an increase of 8.1%, and Earth Sciences, up 8.7%.
Oh, and $955 million for the Geosciences Directorate, an increase of 7.4%.
The second largest request for money in 2011 comes from the Department of Energy. They say they need $627 million for things like funding for renewable energy. The request represents a whopping 37% increase from last year! They want a 12% increase for energy efficiency programs. They want to eliminate $2.7 billion of subsidies for industries that emit large amounts of carbon dioxide.
Let’s get NASA in on the parade! For 2011, NASA wants $438 million to study climate change, an increase of 14%. NASA’s total Earth Sciences budget request is actually $1.8 billion. Some $809 million of that is for satellites, some of which are specifically put in orbit to study climate change. It is difficult to separate out which ones are for climate monitoring and which ones are not, so I won’t include this number in the overall climate change money train. But make no mistake: a significant percentage of the $809 million is exclusively for climate change satellites.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is looking for $437 million for climate research. This is an increase of 21.4% from the previous budget. This includes funds for regional and national assessments of climate change, including ocean acidification. Once again, another meaty bag of money to tap into for researchers, who have nice cars and big houses and need to keep up the payments.
The Department of the Interior (DOI) is also interested in robbing the climate change vault — they say they need $244 million in 2011. Of this total, $171 million is for the Climate Change Adaptation initiative. This program identifies areas and species that are most vulnerable to climate change, and implements coping strategies. Another $73 million is needed for the New Energy Frontier initiative. The goal of this program is to increase solar, wind, and geothermal energy capacity.
Solar and wind power don’t survive without this government funding.
Is that $14 trillion making sense yet?
Of course, there’s more. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) wants $169 million to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, an increase of 1%. Do you believe that next year greenhouse gases will be reduced by the EPA spending $169 million? I would bet the ranch that greenhouse gases will continue to increase next year, and the year after that, and the year after that despite EPA spending your money.
Is there any government agency that does not get some climate change funding? The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) wants $338 million for climate change programs. They want $159 million for climate change research, up a whopping 42%. They also want another $179 million for renewable energy, an increase of 41%! The USDA’s climate change efforts are supposed to help farm and land owners adapt to the impacts of climate change. Yes, really.”


Were the two chocolate chip cookies free as well?
Were you accepting a bribe?
I got a grant from Exxon for mine…..

Adrian O

Brulle got the figure all wrong.
It should be a few tens of trillions, not a billion, anti AGW money a year.
Much more than half the world population doesn’t believe in AGW (counting in India and China)
So in the spirit of the article, all their income should all be counted as anti-AGW money.


May I suggest Professor Stephan Lewandowsky as an experienced peer reviewer for this study?

A. Scott

Another source – the White House itself – 2013 Climate Change funding $22 BILLION – yes with a “B” for 2013 and $21.5 Billion next year:
“The White House reported to House Republicans that there are 18 federal agencies engaged in global warming activities in 2013, funding a wide range of programs, including scientific research, international climate assistance, incentivizing renewable energy technology and subsidies to renewable energy producers. Global warming spending is estimated to cost $22.2 billion this year, and $21.4 billion next year.”

A. Scott

Yep – $69 million average over 8 years compared to $20+BILLION according to the White House Report to Congress …. that sure is a blockbuster finding Mr. Brulle.

M. Schneider

Jay Sekulow, Chief Counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice, represents a couple dozen non-profit organizations whose 501c(3) applications have been in limbo at IRS for over 3 years. He ought to send a subpoena to Robert Brulle and Drexler Univ, for information on who at IRS provided them with information, information at first blush seems to have been provide illegally.
Twitter: @JaySekulow, @ACLJ


Hard not to laugh when The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation are listed as funding the denial machine. And the Chamber of Commerce of The US’ entire revenue is part of the conspiracy?
Pull the other one – it’s got icicles on it.

gopal panicker

still waiting for my check

Joe Public

“Prof. Robert Brulle, an environmental sociologist of Drexel University, ……”
Presumably a suckler at the public teat. Oh the irony.

Adam Gallon

And they still complain about “Conspiracy Theories” on the “Deniers” side of things!


The problem with this model of the Warmist Universe in which Dark Funding is thrown at anti-warmists by big oil is that they do not tell me where to apply for this funding for my new blog:
“Skeptical Contrarian Denier”. This information would both give credibility to their arguments and help me luxuriate in the fossil fuel lifestyle to which I want to become accustomed.


I kind of like that now humans know the future with 95% certainty. This sort of thing used to be the domain of palm readers and crystal ball oracles. Now, it’s mainstream science.


According to this link: the WWF Network had an income of EUR 593 million in 2012 – about $810 million. The “dark money” of “$558 million from 2003 to 2010” does not seem quite so impressive now.
Also, if they want to find out about “dark money” shouldn’t they be talking to Tides? Do these people really not know how the AGW side is funded or are they choosing not to look?

Peter Miller

And just who exactly has been receiving this dark money? I tried to follow the trail, mostly through melodramatic and misleading Guardian articles. Assuming the story is true, which I seriously doubt, then my estimate of how much annually alarmists outspend sceptics has dropped from 1,500 to 1, to 1,000 to 1.
In my wanderings I came across this delightful statement from His Alarmism James Hansen.
Environmental groups….fear of losing funding…..following a false energy policy? Perish the thought. how could that be true? Sarc off/
“Hansen called the policy of scaling back nuclear power ‘a big mistake’ and claimed that ‘environmental groups for fear of losing funding would prevent a successful fight against climate change by following a false energy policy.'”

All you deniers, stop confusing the issue with facts.

These people are an expensive joke! What if “deniers” have been paid a couple of £/$billion? So what? The climate evangelists have been paid many times that to try to prove something that has not been happening for 18 years.
An explanation of the mindset of these people is given in Christopher Booker’s excellent “Sunday Telegraph” column. I have copied and pasted it below:
“The most interesting response to my item last week on how the BBC’s coverage of so many issues is shaped and distorted by a one-sided “narrative” was from a reader directing me to a passage on “group-think” in The Blunders of Governments, by Anthony King and Ivor Crewe. They quote the brilliant analysis of the symptoms of this phenomenon by the Yale psychologist Irving J Janis in his book The Victims of Group Think. Janis shows how group-think creates in those caught up in it a false sense of “consensus”, which is unable to accept any alternative viewpoint or evidence that contradicts it.
His portrayal of how the victims of group-think get so carried away by the moral rightness of their cause that they cannot tolerate any dissent from it helps us to understand not just the collective psychology of the BBC but many other examples in our time: not least that “consensus” on global warming.
His account of “the illusion of unanimity”, and how group-thinkers regard anyone daring to question their belief-system as an “enemy” to be discredited, superbly characterises the mentality of that small group of “climate scientists” at the heart of driving the warming scare.
This was never more clearly brought home than by those Climategate emails, showing how they were ready to fiddle their data to promote what they themselves called “the cause”, and to suppress the views of any scientists they saw as a threat to their illusory “consensus”.
We all casually use the term “group-think”, but I had not known how comprehensively Janis explains so much that is puzzling about this world we live in. I am grateful to David Samuel-Camps for alerting me to it.”

Non Nomen

What is the legal definition of a “climate change denial organisation”? What are the minimum reqirements to match Bruelle’s definition? I suppose Bruelle has no definition at all for that and IMHO he is travelling on some sort of “define-as-you-please”-ticket.


the perfect counterpoint. Canadian conservative/libertarian media personality, Ezra Levant – with whom i do not always agree – investigates the hypocrisy of David Suzuki, with lots of scathing stuff on taxpayer-funded CBC along the way. a must watch:
Approx 54 mins: FULL EPISODE: Ezra Levant confronts David Suzuki

The White House reported to House Republicans that there are 18 federal agencies engaged in global warming activities.
Now there is a statement I could sorta believe in. Except it is probably more than 18. But only if you buy into waste = global warming.

Latimer Alder

Readers may be interested in the EU’s policy of funding green groups to lobby..the EU!
The gravy train is never-ending


‘environmental sociologist’ so a comedy duo then !
But we can at least all sleep easy in our beds when we learn that the same sources of ‘dirty money ‘ becomes, by a miracle that makes water truing into wine look like a poor magic track , cleaned beyond godliness when its seen to support ‘the cause ‘ as seen in the funds Shell, BP etc pay out to the IPCC, CRU etc
The real problem is that they simply cannot understand how they have failed, with what they though was ‘everything ‘ on their side the idea that small group of people with little funding , who they have often labelled as ‘fools’ , can beat them is one they cannot deal with. And so the ‘need’ for conspricy dark or otherwise comes about.
Frankly their failure to understand what went wrong and their highly negative and counter-productive approach to correct their failings , is something we should be more than happy about .
The more they resort to childish name calling , out right lying and the use of smoke and mirrors, the less political traction they have .

A. Scott

The paper is available here:
As I’m skimming for first time I suspect it’ll be due a “5 Lewandowsky” rating.


Worthless and ridiculous. Because, sociologist.


Exactly. I’ve been an active denier since 2007, where’s my money?

Non Nomen

Sorry, you can’t claim anything. Show your Hockeystick-Carving-Diploma first.


Elaborate Orwellian bulls***.
And exactly what has that money supposedly been spent on? A few dozen skeptical blogs?


And…. an ‘environmemenal sociologist’….?
Funding must be pretty dang good over there if they can afford to throw cash at specialized sociologists!

Berényi Péter

Must have cost a fortune to pay the seas to have their rate of rise decelerating.

michael hart

Even if it was true, so what? Wealthy people are allowed to have opinions too, and make donations to who they want, subject to the law. It’s called philanthropy. On the warmist side, the Grantham Institute for Climate Change in the UK was partly founded on the money from a wealthy individual. And his name is Jeremy Grantham.

ursus augustus

I’m with Bullocky. Prof. Robert Brulle and Prof. Lewnydumski are a perfect match. Psycho-socio-climatology meets dumpster diving.

Bill Illis

A good example of how easy it is for this field to just exaggerate and distort everything.
The reason there are skeptics in the first place is because of this propensity to default to non-truthfulness as a first response. It is who they are.
And we are just supposed to accept the propositions of the science. From people who are perfectly fine with non-truthfulness.


This is exactly how the poltical narrative of the Left works. Some does a study which has, arguably, a shred of truth. As Morano notes, weasle words are inserted. The published study is picked up be a few opinion-activist journalists along with inserting straw men and what if’s. When the first media “reports” hit the public, the MSM follows along and echos the study and “as reported” treating it as fact. Then it’s repeated. And repeated. And repeated. The takeaway is not what’s “reported” but what’s repeated, ala Goebbels. “The most brilliant propagandist technique will yield no success unless one fundamental principle is borne in mind constantly – it must confine itself to a few points and repeat them over and over.”
Actually, the “big oil” straw man used by Brulle is part of the “repeating”. Try countering with “Everyone believes this is just another lie from the warmests”.
Obtw, one really should believe the claim about the IRS.

I got a “free” T-Shirt from Energy Citizens, for an afternoon of my time. Does that count?


So Prof. Brulle can surely help me get my dark money for being sceptical. After all I’m certain that neither he nor his university take any money from energy companies. Right?

Lawrence Todd

Drexel Univiversity with almost 2 billion in assets much of it received from dark money paid no income taxes last year by using a tax loop hole.

I’d be embarrassed to write something like that. But, I’m not an environmental sociologist and am in the pay of industry. Great silly early morning reading.

Jean Parisot

Was Prof. Brulle able to identify the Accounts Payable address for this dark money? I have backlog of invoices to submit.

I don’t like this at all, primarily because there are fools who believe this nonsense.
The prospect of being seen as a sort of Doctor Frankenstein, and greeting a mob with burning torches at the front door of my modest castle, doesn’t exactly appeal to me. But…O well, I’ll do my best to invite them in and charm them with hospitality and reason. And if the fools who swallow Robert Brulle’s paranoia prefer empty-eyed hate to my amazing charm, I will have gone down standing for Truth.
We all have to go sometime, and I’d hate to look back during my final moments and realize I made up data and perpetuated untruths just to lick government boots for filthy lucre. I don’t do this, and wouldn’t even know where to begin. I wonder how it is that Professor Brulle knows so much about the subject. Has he done it?
Likely his school does receive funding from people who have a vested interest in promoting Alarmism. Maybe he assumes that, because he can’t survive without such funding, it must be the way of the world. (A sort of “projection,” if you want the psychological term for this sort of insanity.)


Confectionary manufacturers last week stated they had no involvement whatsoever in the production of chocolate teapots.
This claim has been hotly disputed by Professor Brulles**t, using only an abacus stated he has incontrovertible proof that millions of chocolate tea pots, which are causing catastrophic global warming, are being produced in facilities deep within disused mine shafts throughout the known world.
Merry Christmas and a Happy and Prosperous New Year to all.

Lawrence Todd
I do not see any expertise in climate science in training or research
It looks like he made up a academic program so he would have a job as he looks like the only professor involved.

Non Nomen

>>The takeaway is not what’s “reported” but what’s repeated, ala Goebbels. “The most brilliant propagandist technique will yield no success unless one fundamental principle is borne in mind constantly – it must confine itself to a few points and repeat them over and over.” <<
@cedarhills: compared with the IPCC techniques of distortion and omitting, Goebbels was bungling.

Lew & Dowski

hopefully the search for the darkmoney will lead to the discovery of all the missing dark matter

Jack Cowper

Hysterical, paranoid, tripe – but I think the word Bulls**t best describes this rubbish. How can somone so educated be so stupid. Perhaps him and Greg Laden will be meeting up this christmas to put the world to right.

“The White House reported to House Republicans that there are 18 federal agencies engaged in global warming activities…”
There are 18 federal agencies working to warm the globe?. That’s a fairly brave admission


To all those complaining that they are not getting any of this ‘Dark Money’ for being a skeptic, it is your own fault, if you are willing to do it for free because of some delusional belief then why would the oil companies pay you ?!
But ignoring the issue of how much is going to advocate climate science rejection, how much to union bashing and how much to promote deregulation of the financial system, the really interesting question is how healthy is it for a democracy to have large funds lobbying politicians where the donors are secret?
Is secret money ethical, why should not all funding be transparent as it is on the other ‘side’?

Alan Bates

I was delighted to see the standard photo at the top of the Garundia article. The classic:
(like the black money??).
“Delighted” because it immediately says, “This is article is political rubbish”. Like so many others.